My Poor Avatars

In the game “Darfur is Dying,” the player is faced with the realities of the current situation facing those living Darfur. Trying to get water was very difficult for me (maybe because I never play video games?). I’m not sure if it was purposely that difficult, but I made it to the well on my third avatar, only to get captured on the way back with my jug full of water. It is a sad game to play. It was incredibly difficult to attempt to get to the well only to continually get caught. I got most of the family caught. I was sad to realize how slow the mother was and she was caught very early on. I tried to go to the village but we were out of water to I had to keep go out to forage for water. It was quite frustrating and I bit scary. Avoiding the trucks of Janjaweed was not an easy task. It seemed like they just kept going. I felt bad for my avatars for getting stuck with me. I felt bad selecting little kids to run around trying to get water. It made me feel almost like a bad person because it seems like something an adult should do since there is such a high risk of getting caught. I managed to get almost the entire family caught. I’m unsure if the game is intentionally difficult in order to create a realistic experience of the sad real-world conditions in Darfur. I know that I felt frustrated that I didn’t do very well. For full disclosure, I couldn’t figure out what to do in the village. All I did was wander around.

I could see how this game was like what Ian Bogost discussed as far as the game recreating a realistic experience by commemorating “the memories of those lost by sharing the operational reality” of their experiences. Unlike the 9-11 experience that Bogart refers to in that quote, the Darfur situation is repeatable because the issue being addressed by the creation of this game is that these atrocities continue to occur and the game hopes to inspire the user to care and want to do something about it.